Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High & Tight Inside Gerrit Cole's NL Award-Winning Month of April

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High & Tight Inside Gerrit Cole's NL Award-Winning Month of April

Article excerpt

The day after they pitch, Pirates starters typically hold a debriefing session with manager Clint Hurdle. Sometimes, Hurdle said, Gerrit Cole's sessions last longer than usual.

"He's one guy that at times I'll spend a little more time with than others," said Hurdle, smiling, "because he can get animated."

Cole is an intense player. It was on display Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds. When Cole realized Joey Votto was yelling at him after striking out, television cameras caught Cole's animated reaction in the dugout.

* * * *

Hurdle pointed to a situation in late April in Chicago. An inning against the Cubs went out of control and he saw Cole's intensity. Kris Bryant walked, and then Cole's pickoff throw tore a hole in Pedro Alvarez's glove, allowing Bryant to reach second. Miguel Montero's hit became an RBI single because the runner had moved to scoring position. Alvarez missed another pickoff throw, and now another runner was in scoring position.

Cole had had enough. He struck out Starlin Castro looking at a fastball, Chris Coghlan swung through a fastball and Kyle Hendricks looked at a slider for called strike three. Thirty-one pitches and Cole was out of the inning.

"I said, 'It looked like you kind of wanted to stop things and not let anybody else play,'" Hurdle said. "And he just got this smirk come across his face. He said, 'That's kind of an interesting way to put it because that's kind of how I felt.' It was time to not let anybody else play and see if I could take care of this.

"And he didn't mean it in a bad way. It's just, OK, let me see if I can stop this. And he did. I've played against some pitchers that have shown that ability and with one at one time, Dwight Gooden back in the day. He was that guy."

That attitude, coupled with a high-90s fastball and two plus breaking pitches, helped Cole turn in a strong first month that earned him National League pitcher of the month honors -- the first Pirate to be so honored since Randy Tomlin in 1992. He had a 1.76 ERA in his first five starts, four of which he won. Opponents batted .198 against him, and he struck out 35 batters in 302/3 innings.

"I've been throwing pretty well," Cole said by way of analyzing his workload thus far, though he was disappointed with his outing Wednesday, when he allowed three runs in five innings. "[Wednesday] was a little unfortunate. I felt like I didn't try to do too much or try to get out of my game plan. I just didn't make pitches when I needed to make pitches."

The pangs of a slump

Though five games out of 162 is not much of a sample size, the fact that the Pirates lost all of them to division rivals is somewhat significant. The culprit was their offense, and specifically their inability to convert runners in scoring position into runs.

From May 1-6, the Pirates were 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position and left 54 runners on base. …

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